Goleta Union School District received reports this month of anti-Blackness occurring against Black students enrolled at its schools.
These reports were first addressed in a Nov. 7 public statement from Healing Justice Santa Barbara — an organization dedicated to creating safe spaces for Black people and combating anti-Blackness — and included demands for Goleta Union School District (GUSD) to address the anti-Black incidents.
“Last week, a Black first grader was assaulted by a classmate who choked him while repeating the n-word. This is the second time this child has been targeted within weeks and the second time such harassment occurred without appropriate adult intervention or observation,” the statement read.
In a statement sent to GUSD families and staff on Nov. 9, Superintendent Diana Galindo-Roybal confirmed that the district received reports of the usage of the N-word against Black students.
“There has been a recent report of racial slurs being used at one of our schools, specifically the use of the N-word towards Black students,” Galindo-Roybal said in the message. “In GUSD, we take the use of any derogatory and racial language within our schools very seriously. We reaffirm GUSD’s commitment to ensure that our schools are physically, socially, and emotionally safe spaces for all children, specifically our Black children.”
Galindo-Roybal listed existing initiatives enacted in GUSD to combat anti-Blackness, such as anti-bias training for staff and a developing GUSD Diversity, Equity and Inclusion plan, and said the district’s approach to this current issue will prioritize sensitivity.
“Our response to inappropriate and unsafe behavior will be developmentally appropriate to the age and maturity of the individual,” Galindo-Roybal said. “We will strive to address and correct behavior in a manner that upholds the dignity of the child.”
Healing Justice’s primary demands called for GUSD to provide accurate, public reports on anti-Black violence occurring across campuses, conduct a comprehensive investigation and hold negligent teachers and staff accountable, and provide access to Black mental health providers trained in addressing racial trauma and race-based PTSD for impacted students.
The organization also called for the district to invest in hiring Black practitioners of restorative and transformative justice, provide in-depth workshops condemning anti-Black violence, and recruit more Black teachers in its schools.
“The district must explain why these occurrences were not shared with the wider community in a timely manner and address any policies and practices that reward obscuring truthful and timely reporting,” the demands read.
A version of this article appeared on p. 2 of the Nov. 15, 2022, print edition of the Daily Nexus.